Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fatal1ty - Professional Gamer

Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel is 24 years old. He's been a professional gamer since 1999. He's made more than $350,000 in tournament winnings since he started. He's got a computer gaming product line licensing his name. He's the Tiger Woods of professional gaming.

To understand what professional gaming is all about, you have to understand the business side of it. There are 300 million gamers in the world, who will spend $34B this year on gaming hardware and software. By comparison worldwide box office ticket sales worldwide come to about $21B.

Fatal1ty competes in the Cyberathlete Professional League. CPL is sponsored by some of the biggest computer companies in the world, including Intel and nVidia. The 2005 CPL World Tour Finals in New York city later this year have a cash prize pool of $500,000. The finals will be covered by MTV.

CPL is only one of several similar professional gaming leagues. Probably better known is the World Cyber Games, sometimes referred to as the Olympics of cyber gaming. WCG runs national qualifiers, and the national champions compete in the WCG Grand Finals, currently happening in Singapore. 2006 Grand Finals are going to be in Monza, Italy. WCG's main sponsors include Intel and Samsung. The WCG Grand Finals has a cash prize pool of roughly $435,000.

To be successful as a professional gamer Fatal1ty trains 8 hours a day in his basement where he has 4 PCs networked together. He studies the games he plays, watches videos on his opponents to know their weaknesses and varies his gamestyle against different opponents to gain an advantage. Poker and football fans will instantly see a striking similarity to how professional poker and football players prepare for their games.

People don't call Fatal1ty the Tiger Woods of professional gaming only because of his gaming skills, but also because his business savvy. He's licensing his name to several computer manufacturers, which are putting out Fatal1ty branded computer equipment. Along with the hardware, he's got apparel and accessories on sale at his online store.

Time will tell if professional gaming will ever reach the popularity of professional sports, but professional gaming is booming right now. Prizes are getting bigger, more and more sponsors are interested, TV networks are competing to cover events and public interest is greater than ever. It sure isn't just for kids any more.

Update:
Fatal1ty wins big in the CPL grand finals, which puts his total winnings for the season at $231K.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Nice article. As time moves on, pro gaming will continue to gain momentum, and Fatal1ty serves as a great example of how serious the "sport" is.